Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney

Sooner or later, your little girl grows up and gets married. You are never going to like that guy dating your girl. He's a hormone addled idiot, like you were at his age. But at some point, your chicks have to leave the nest and fly on their own.

And that's the dilema faced by George Lucas. Is he protecting his baby? or stifling it? Lucas has been through this transition as a dad recently (his youngest is 19), so now it's time to do the same with his first child, Star Wars.

He can't hold onto Star Wars forever. Eventually he'll die, and his estate will screw it up anyway. It's better to let go of it now, when he's still alive and can influence the trajectory, rather than not know where it's going to end up later.

Disney is a natural fit for Star Wars. It has always been about the children. That's why there were Ewoks. That's why there was Jar Jar. It's always been the sort of movie that Lucas himself wanted to see when he was a kid.

Then there is the problem with copyright. Lucas believes that movies are dead in the future. Cheap 1080p systems for the home already rival movie theaters in picture and sound, and the Internet makes piracy too easy. The copyright genie will never be put back in the bottle. Again, Disney is a natural fit. They are not a film company, they are a force of nature. In the future, film companies will die off, but Disney will survive.

Disney will do no worse than what Lucas himself did with the prequels. Star Wars is a brand. Disney will do the do the sorts of things that companies do for brand management. They'll produce content that is critically regarded, loved by fans, but a commercial failure. Then they'll also produce content that's the opposite, milking the brand for money. We'll get to complain and fall in love again with the franchise all over again many times in the coming decades.

So yea, it's the end of the era, but the start of a new one.


Anonymous said...

I disagree that Star Wars has always been about the kids. Yes, the Ewoks of the *third* movie were certainly influenced by being kid-friendly, but the original 3 movies happened to be in that wonderful space where kids and adults can both appreciate them and love them over a long time. That's hard to do with anything actually made "for kids." Usually products have to be kid accessible, but give them dialogue, situations, and activity that they can grow up into.

Though, yes, the prequals were clearly a product of Lucas specifically wanting to create kids movies, which is a big reason they gained so much scorn. Same story with Indiana Jones 4.

I'm happy he's letting this go. It makes no business sense to hold back the original movies despite the demand; that's the action of Lucas alone. I would also say the atrocity of the prequals is almost certainly all his, since the writing, directecting, and choices were universally bad or juvenile.


George said...

There's also the tax benefits of selling now.